If there's any area of the home that sees the most change on a daily basis, it has to be the home office. Our desks are ever in flux, often wearing different hats as a shipment receiving area (oh, pile of mail, I'll get to you one day), a hideaway catch-all, dining table (oh, crumbs, I'll get to you…after I sort the mail), entertainment area, and of course, where our tech devices lay to rest and recharge until we need them the next day. It also happens to be a section of the home most often neglected from both an organizational or aesthetic perspective.
People tend to buy a desk, a chair, a lamp, place their computer setup onto and hope for the best with little thought or planning about how those elements all work together and within the space they occupy. What often results is a mess of cables, wires, haphazardly placed peripherals and piles of "stuff" that only gets worse with time.
Here are 5 ways to beat back the battle of the bulge on and around your desk:
Know your space! This includes starting off with the right desk for the space, choosing a home office task chair that feels good and looks good, and situating them to maximize the way you work within the room. Play around with layout of your desk and chair for the first couple of weeks before settling everything into a more permanent layout. This can save a lot of headaches down the line (sometimes literally, when you discover excess glare from a window appearing only at certain times of the day).
Consider floating shelving. Want to keep the desk clean of clutter but have limited surface space? Look overhead and add a couple of shelves above your desk to extend storage space. Floating shelves from the likes of IKEA, Crate & Barrel and West Elm are affordable and easy to install. Just make sure they're properly installed securely onto a stud and watch out about how much weight you add onto them. For more serious wall shelving installations, but still a simple weekend DIY project, we can personally attest to the ELFA system available at The Container Store. It's what's holding up a 27 lbs printer and then some in our own home office.
Wall mount your monitor. Imagine a picture frame on your desk opposed to one mounted on the wall. Which one takes up more space, adds more clutter? The same goes for your computer monitor, and by mounting a 23" screen for example, you're freeing up quite a bit of space that was taken up by the screen's stand. Wall mounts take about 30 minutes to install but will give you back countless hours of a more organized, cleaner place to work from.
Designate specific areas for specific items. Organizing any space, but most specifically desks, depends heavily on creating areas with designated sections for use and storage for specific tasks and items. So if you've got a desk stationery organizer (we love this Kaiju Studios i/o Desk Organizer), make it a point it will only hold specific items. Same goes for the inside of your desk drawers; we used affordable plastic drawer organizers to specifically keep all of our tech tools in orderly fashion and it has helped us to keep storing specific items in the same place over and over. Practice the mantra: "Everything Has Its Place"
Treat your desk like your desktop. We're going to assume the desktop on your computer isn't a wasteland of folders and icons, your trashcan isn't brimming of files that need to be emptied, and that you regularly maintain an organized system of in/out/to-do files. In a similar sense your real life desk requires a daily and weekly ritual of upkeep, and tidying up at the start or end of each session behind the keyboard can make a big difference.
Here's an excellent quote worth considering posted by Mike a couple months back:
"It's important to remember that your workspace is a fluid environment. The work you do and the things you use are never static. They grow as you grow so your system needs to grow along with it. A clean workspace is key to doing good work. It makes tasks manageable and easier to accomplish. And of course, it also makes your [home] neater. (Setting) up a system of zones, based around purpose to help you reduce the clutter in your workspace and ultimately make yourself more productive and your workspace more enjoyable."
Here are some additional helpful outside sources about the topic of keeping an organized workspace we recommend:
- 3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk - Zen Habits
- 10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy - Life Clever
- How to Keep Your Desk Clear - Becoming Minimalist
- Clear Your Desk, Clear Your Mind - we particularly like Michael Hyatt's reapplication of Toyota's 5S system for desk maintenance.
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